What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings and Markups –

  • Wednesday, September 27
    • Senate Budget Committee, “Medicare Forever: Protecting Seniors by Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share.” Additional Information

Notable Policy Events –

  • Wednesday, September 27
    • CMS, “Medicaid and CHIP Renewals: What to Know and How to Prepare, A Partner Education Monthly Series.” Additional Information
    • Health Affairs, “Briefing: How The Ownership and Structure of Health Care Entities Affect Clinicians & Patients.” Additional Information
    • The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), “Health Care and Artificial Intelligence: Understanding Best Business Practices in an Evolving Industry.” Additional Information
  • Wednesday, September 27 – Thursday, September 28
  • Thursday, September 28
  • Thursday, September 28 – Friday, September 29

Weekly Wrap-Up: Notable Health Care Developments from Last Week

Medicare & Medicaid –

  • On September 18, CMS released a rule intended to simplify processes for eligible individuals to enroll and retain eligibility in the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which will be effective November 17, 2023. Rule Press Release Fact Sheet
  • On September 21, CMS announced that nearly 500,000 children and other individuals who were improperly disenrolled from Medicaid or CHIP will regain their coverage due to a CMS Call to Action for states to address system issues inappropriately disenrolling beneficiaries. Press Release Call to Action

Payment & Delivery System Models – On September 21, the CMS Innovation Center published a webpage that explains how models are formulated, vetted, and selected to become models. The page also provides an overview of model development and evaluation. Webpage

Public Health Prevention, Preparedness, Surveillance & Data –

  • On September 18, Energy & Commerce Committee Chair McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie (R-KY) and Oversight and Investigations Chair Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to CDC Director Cohen and USDA Secretary Vilsack about the safety and security of federal high-containment laboratories. Press Release Letter
  • On September 20, HHS awarded $45 million in grants to support existing multidisciplinary Long-COVID clinics. Press Release
  • Also on September 20, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced $600 million in investments across 12 domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers and the reopening of COVIDTests.gov to deliver COVID-19 tests for free to households across the U.S. Press Release
  • On September 22, CDC Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA) announced that it awarded funds to 13 primary awardees to establish the first national network for outbreak analytics and disease modeling. Announcement

Health IT, Privacy, & Digital Health –

  • On September 18, FDA announced the availability of a strategic plan entitled the “FDA Information Technology Strategy” and requested feedback and comments. Comments are due October 30, 2023. Notice Blog Strategic Plan
  • On September 19, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published a blog on the agency’s Digital Healthcare Research (DHR) Program and its recently funded projects that aim to inform digital healthcare evolutions. Blog

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy –

  • On September 20, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a new report entitled, “Recovery from Substance Use and Mental Health Problems Among Adults in the United States,” that provides data on adults in recovery and provides policy recommendations to support recovery. Press Release Report
  • On September 21, SAMHSA announced that it had awarded $127.7 million to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) across the country. These grant awards support the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing efforts to advance President Biden’s Unity Agenda to address the country’s mental health crisis and opioid epidemic. Press Release

Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Biomedical Research, & Health Innovation – On September 21, FDA announced the availability of final guidance regarding the conduction of clinical trials during disasters and public health emergencies. Announcement Final Guidance

Veterans Health and Military Health –

  • On September 20, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced steps forward on its Veteran suicide prevention initiatives, including $52.5 million in new suicide prevention grants, a new set of suicide prevention public service announcements, and statistics on the impact of VA’s new program offering free emergency medical care to Veterans in acute suicidal crisis at any VA or non-VA health care facility. Press Release
  • On September 20, VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on the number of covered drugs that manufacturers did not make available on the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) as required by law. GAO found that manufacturers did not make 22.8 percent of drugs available on the FFS, resulting in an estimated $28.1 million in overcharges to VA and the Department of Defense (DOD). Report in Brief Report
  • On September 21, VA announced it has reduced the number of Veterans with opioid prescriptions by 67 percent since 2012. Press Release
  • Also on September 21, VA OIG released a report that summarizes the types of personnel shortages most reported across four federal health care programs and strategies to mitigate personnel shortages caused by or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Report in Brief Report
  • On September 22, VA OIG released a report finding that VA generally did not comply with its financial policies to process and authorize Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expenditure transfers. The OIG also found that VA generally complied with the VA Transparency & Trust Act of 2021 for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act reporting requirements. Report in Brief Report

Population Health, Public Health & Health Equity –

  • On September 18, HHS launched an Environmental Justice Community Innovator Challenge to support disadvantaged communities facing environmental injustices, including health harms due to climate change. Press Release
  • Also on September 18, the Association for Community Living (ACL) awarded $3.6 million in funding for the Older Adults’ Equity Collaborative (OAEC) through 2026. Press Release
  • On September 20, ACL announced four new cooperative agreements, totaling over $3.6 million, in support of the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. The project period is September 30, 2023-September 29, 2027. Press Release

Health Systems & Health Care Workforce – On September 22, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a funding opportunity under the State Primary Care Offices (PCOs) Program. Funding is intended to support a Statewide Primary Care Needs Assessment and technical assistance. Applications are due December 14, 2023. Funding Opportunity

Reproductive & Maternal Health –

  • On September 21, CMS issued guidance reinforcing that hospitals can allow nurse midwives to admit and provide care to non-Medicare beneficiaries without the oversight of a Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy. Guidance
  • Also on September 21, HRSA announced more than $4 million in awards to North Carolina to support the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a whole-of-government strategy to combat maternal mortality and improve maternal health. Press Release

Misc. – On September 20, HHS announced $8.1 million to fund the third cohort of grant recipients of the diaper distribution demonstration and research pilot program, bringing the total funding to $24.3 million since the program’s inception in September 2022. Press Release

Legislative Activity –

Votes and Committee Activity –

  • On September 21, the Senate HELP Committee passed the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act (S. 2840) by a vote of 14-7. The bill would improve access to and the quality of primary health care and expand the health workforce. The legislation now heads to the full Senate Committee for consideration. Bill Text Press Release Section-by-Section

Introduced Legislation –

  • On September 18, Rep. Harshbarger (R-TN) and six bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Seniors’ Access to Critical Medications Act of 2023 (H.R. 5526), which would clarify the application of the in-office ancillary services exception to the physician self-referral prohibition for drugs furnished under the Medicare program. Bill Text Bill Summary Press Release
  • Also on September 18, Reps. Joyce (R-PA) and Nickel (D-NC) introduced the (H.R. 5539), which would expand and clarify the exclusion for orphan drugs under the Drug Price Negotiation Program. Bill Text
  • Also on September 18, Reps. Latta (R-OH) and Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act (H.R. 5541), which would provide temporary licensing reciprocity for telehealth and interstate health care treatment. Bill Text Press Release
  • On September 19, Reps. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Crockett (D-TX) introduced the Senior Nutrition Task Force Act of 2023 (H.R. 4706), which would establish the Interagency Task Force to Address Hunger and Promote Access to Healthy Food Among Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities. Bill Text
  • Also on September 19, Rep. Trahan (D-MA) and 17 cosponsors introduced the Bridging the SNAP Gap Act of 2023 (H.R. 4815), which would expand the medical expense deduction. Bill Text
  • Also on September 19, Reps. Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Tonko (D-NY), Hinson (R-IA), and Bucshon (R-IN) introduced the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) Relief Act of 2023 (H.R. 5555), which would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide for certain adjustments to Medicare payment for items of durable medical equipment that were formerly included in round 2021 of the DMEPOS competitive bidding program. Press Release
  • Also on September 19, Sen. Casey (D-PA) introduced the Foster Youth Mental Health Act (S. 2836), which would support the mental health and well-being of children and youth in, and formerly in, foster care. Bill Summary Press Release
  • Also on September 19, Sen. Casey (D-PA) introduced the Expanded Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act (S. 2837), which would ensure health insurance coverage continuity for former foster youth. Bill Summary Press Release
  • Also on September 19, Sens. Rosen (D-NV), Braun (R-IN), and Collins (R-ME) introduced the Train More Nurses Act (S. 2853), which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study and issue a report on grant programs to support the nursing workforce. Press Release
  • On September 20, McClellan (D-VA) and Mace (R-SC) introduced the Child Care Assistance for Maternal Health Act (H.R. 5581), which would authorize grants for demonstration projects to support mothers and families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period by increasing access to short-term child care. Bill Text Bill Summary Press Release
  • Also on September 20, Reps. Lee (D-NV) and Kiggans (R-VA) introduced the Treatment, Recovery, Education, Awareness and Training for (TREAT) Youth Act (H.R. 5598), which would amend the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act to reauthorize a youth prevention and recovery initiative. One Pager Press Release
  • Also on September 20, Reps. Steube (R-FL) and Cammack (R-FL) introduced the Affordable Care and Comprehensive Economic Support through Savings (ACCESS) Act (H.R. 5608), which would allow individuals to elect to receive contributions to a health savings account in lieu of reduced cost-sharing under health insurance obtained through a health insurance Exchange. Bill Text Press Release
  • Also on September 20, Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Kuster (D-NH) introduced the Helping Ensure Access to Local TeleHealth (HEALTH) Act (H.R. 5611), which would provide for permanent payments for telehealth services furnished by Federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics under the Medicare program. Press Release
  • Also on September 20, Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Padilla (D-CA) introduced the Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act (S. 2874), which would provide fresh produce to individuals facing food and nutrition insecurity. Press Release
  • On September 21, Reps. Balint (D-VT) and Tokuda (D-HI) introduced the Addressing Addiction After Disasters Act (H.R. 5623), which would authorize the President to provide substance use and alcohol use disorder services. Press Release
  • Also on September 21, Rep. Good (R-VA) and 15 cosponsors introduced the No Vaccine Mandates in Higher Education Act (H.R. 5634), which would prohibit institutions of higher education from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for students or staff. Press Release